Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who is rumored to be contemplating a 2024 presidential run, spent his Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” pretending he is more of a “small government” Republican than Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who recently took action to protect children from radical gender ideology in government schools.
“I’m a small-government, you know, common-sense conservative, and to me, [DeSantis’ governance] sounds like big government and authoritarian: ‘You have to agree with me, and I’m going to tell you what you can and can’t do,’” Hogan told host Chuck Todd.
Hogan wants voters to think he believes in keeping the government out of Americans’ matters, but his heavy-handed response to Covid-19 shows that the true “big government and authoritarian” approach to governance happened under his watch in Maryland, not in Florida.
The former chief executive of Maryland is no stranger to criticizing DeSantis for going after big business and the federal government to preserve Americans’ rights. What Hogan doesn’t seem to recognize is that manipulating state authority to doom kids to screens and set them back for decades via school lockdowns isn’t comparable to using existing powers to protect children from the clutches of government-led indoctrination.
While Republican governors such as DeSantis refused to enact or enforce tyrannical measures to satiate the Covid panic porn that drove policy decisions all over the U.S., Hogan urged schools to remain closed, mandated universal masking, and ordered certain state employees to get the Covid jab or risk losing their jobs.
Those who didn’t comply, Hogan promised, would be punished by the state government. Others were also smeared by Hogan, who declared that refusing to comply with his mask mandates was the equivalent of claiming a constitutional right to drive drunk.
Hogan didn’t just keep these damaging policies well into 2022; he exploited Maryland’s state-of-emergency protocols to prolong them. After two years of evidence that government-mandated lockdowns, masks, and jabs don’t stop the virus from spreading, Hogan issued several executive orders endowing his bureaucracy with more overreach powers. That’s not a “small government” move.
As a result, some of the most vulnerable Americans have been paying the price. Under Hogan’s encouragement, Maryland schools quickly became some of the longest-closed educational institutions in the U.S. The dangers of school closures were present from the beginning of lockdowns. Yet when some national leaders including then-President Donald Trump called on schools to reopen, Hogan claimed that was “bullying.”
“Well, we’re not going to take any bullying, and the state is going to make the best decisions that we can based on the science and what the educators and the public health officials say,” Hogan said. “We’ve got to get our kids learning again. We got to get them back to school, but we’ve got to take every precaution we can to keep them safe.”
Hogan’s failure to protect kids from deadly lockdowns left millions of young Americans in his state struggling. Three years after they were first barred from attending class in person, students in Maryland recorded their worst reading scores in three decades. Despite Maryland’s State Department funneling $169 million to address learning lapses following Hogan’s devastating decision to keep schools closed, Maryland students’ ability to retain and apply math concepts also hit record lows.
Specifically, 75 percent of eighth graders in Maryland government schools and 69 percent of fourth graders ranked at or below basic achievement in mathematics. In 23 Baltimore schools, zero students exemplified proficiency in math.
That doesn’t sound like the “common sense” Hogan argued he might bring to the White House one day.
Politicians’ response to the pandemic was a litmus test for their true beliefs about the role government should play in Americans’ lives. Hogan’s governance during the height of the Covid-19 panic — and well beyond it — demonstrates the incessant desire he, like so many GOP politicians, had to extend the government’s overreach beyond what is constitutionally available. In the meantime, he failed to uphold basic American rights.
Hogan clearly has a flawed understanding of the role of elected leaders. Their purpose, according to the U.S. Constitution, is not to restrain the people but the government, so citizens can flourish under their God-given rights.
Hogan didn’t do that while he was in office, something that was made especially clear from 2020 until his retirement in 2023. He expanded his state’s bureaucratic powers in the face of adversity instead of preserving Americans’ rights, to the detriment of the next generation — and there’s nothing “small government” or “common sense” about that.